The role of paramilitary punishment attacks and intimidation in death by suicide in post agreement Northern Ireland

Dr Sharon Mallon (OU)

The signing of the Good Friday agreement effectively brought an end to the widespread violence associated with the ‘Troubles’. However, communities within Northern Ireland continue to be blighted by an insidious form of violence in the form of punishment beatings and intimidation. Anecdotal evidence published in news media have linked cases of such intimidation and violence to individual cases of suicide. However, to date, there has been a lack of empirical research examining this relationship. The aim of this seminar is to address this gap in our knowledge by examining these forms of violence among a cohort of individuals who died by suicide in Northern Ireland.  Using data collected from Coroners and GP files and during interviews with family members, we use a modified version of the psychological autopsy method to explore how intimidation and/or beatings, at or around the time of the death, may have contributed to the suicides of individuals who died over a two-year period. We explore some of the specific features of these deaths and examine associated help seeking with primary care and other mental health professionals. We conclude by exploring ways in which this challenging issue might be tackled at a policy level.

Date of seminar: 21 June 2017.

Policy Briefing